Champions League Group Stage • AC Milan-Atlético Madrid Preview: Then and Now

Our last Champions League match before this season was away to Atlético Madrid in March of 2014, a time when Seedorf was briefly coaching and Bonera was still playing. Kaká was the only highlight of that match for Milan, scoring his 30th Champions League goal, and also left the club that season. Atlético Madrid went all the way to the final that year, only to lose to Real Madrid. Diego Simeone has been coaching Atléti since 2011, but so much has changed at Milan. Pioli is the seventh new coach at Milan since then, and Bonera is now one of his assistants. Milan are having a great season, having built exponentially on the past two, whereas Atlético are struggling, despite having won La Liga last year and the Europa League and UEFA Super Cup in 2018. Let's hope that those trends continue for this match, as we hope to focus less on the then and more on the now.

That was the end of an era

Atlético certainly have consistency in Diego Simeone, who has been at the club since the year Milan last won a Scudetto. Since that time, they have qualified for the Champions League every season, and he took them to two Champions League finals, won two Europa League finals, and lifted two UEFA Super Cups. After clinching their 11th La Liga title last season, this season has not started off quite as well for them. They played to a 0-0 draw in their first Champions League match vs. Porto, and  are sitting fourth in the Spanish league, with a record of 4-2-1, that loss coming on Saturday against last place Alavés.

For Saturday's match, Simeone lined up Oblak; Savić, Felipe, Hermoso; Kondogbia; Trippier, Llorente, De Paul, Carrasco; Suárez, and Griezmann. Savić is serving a four match European ban for an incident last season, but as of this writing, Simeone is likely to have both Lemar and Koke back from injury. While Milan has a whole new roster of players since we last faced Atléti, Koke was in the starting lineup for the Spanish side when we last faced them, another indication of just how experienced and stable the club has been in comparison.

Griezemann's frustration vs. Porto exemplifies Atlético's form right now

Milan's new roster of players is more than just a list of names, it is a whole new generation. Daniel Maldini made history on Saturday by being the third Maldini to start and also to score for the club. He symbolizes Milan's return to the Champions League and the rebirth as a result of the return to the club of his father, Paolo Maldini. While Milan's first match back away to Liverpool was very shaky and did not have the result we wanted, the young team impressed nonetheless. Playing at home and having a very tough first match under their belts, they have the opportunity to step it up for this one and take advantage of the mentality and momentum at Milan right now.

Unfortunately, Pioli does have a number of injuries to deal with. He will be missing Ibrahimović, Krunić, Bakayoko and Plizzari to injuries, while Messias is still not fit. Giroud and Calabria both got minutes on Saturday and will be available, while Kjaer and Florenzi trained with the group on Monday and are expected to be available at least on the bench on Tuesday night.

Milan's new generation

Our last matchup with Atlético was a 4-1 loss to send us crashing out of the Round of 16 of a competition that we would not return to for seven years. In my review of that match, I wrote:

"So we crash and burn out of the Champions League for now. When we will be back is hard to know, we have so much work to do to be at that level again."

Now Milan are back in the competition, but are we at that level? Tomorrow night will be a great test for this young squad. Even with injuries, this team is the polar opposite of the team we had then. They are young, united, and with a fantastic mentality, not to mention some consistency going into our third season with the same coach. 

A picture is worth seven years without Champions League

Brahim Díaz said in an interview with DAZN: "The Champions League is the home of Milan, the whole world knows it." This is our best chance to beat Atlético while they are struggling a bit, despite being the top seed in the group. Milan are the underdogs on paper, the bottom seed of the group this season, but games are not played on paper. This match won't be decided on what happened then, it is all about the here and now.

This post inspired by the music of She Wants Revenge "Tear You Apart"

Champions League Group Stage
AC Milan vs. Atlético Madrid
Tuesday, September 28 • 21:00 CEST (3pm EDT)
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramount+ in the U.S.

UEFA Youth League
AC Milan Primavera vs. Atlético Madrid U19
Tuesday, September 28 • 14:30 CEST (8:30am EDT)
This match will not be streamed LIVE in the U.S.

Champions League Group Stage • AC Milan-Atlético Madrid Preview: Then and Now Champions League Group Stage • AC Milan-Atlético Madrid Preview: Then and Now Reviewed by Elaine on 8:15 AM Rating: 5
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